Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

THE CENTER OF JEFFERSON'S WORLD the 250th Anniversary of the Third President's Birth Is Marked by Celebrations at His Home

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

THE CENTER OF JEFFERSON'S WORLD the 250th Anniversary of the Third President's Birth Is Marked by Celebrations at His Home

Article excerpt

A TALL man with red hair and a face that "beamed with benevolence and intelligence," entered a shop in Philadelphia on July 3, 1776 and bought a thermometer for $19.

On July 4, while the angry members of the Second Continental Congress debated a Declaration of Independence from the tyranny of the British crown, Thomas Jefferson, the author of the declaration, calmly took four readings of the temperature that day on his new thermometer, at 6 a.m., 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 9 p.m.

In the evening, the debate ended. All present except one signed the declaration. A political and social revolution that continues to change the world was underway.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness...."

There is no casual connection between the thermometer and the Declaration of Independence. To Jefferson, with his unsurpassed interest and knowledge about everything including the weather, horticulture, architecture, furniture, music, languages {he spoke and read seven languages}, books, cooking, astronomy, medicine, art, surveying, paleontology, etc., it was his pursuit of happiness to explore the fullness of life and nature.

Unremarkable now, but extraordinary in 1776, Jefferson wanted each man to have the opportunity to pursue happiness free of political tyranny (Some thoughts later on Jefferson's ownership of slaves).

Today, at Monticello, Jefferson's home and center of exploration and happiness for 40 years, the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of his birth in 1743 will be launched. The centerpiece of the celebration is an exhibition of more than 150 of Jefferson's possessions on loan from museums and individuals from around the world. The exhibit, as well as dozens of related events across the United States, will continue at Monticello through the end of the year.

"His intellect and values are expressed in everything here," says Susan Stein, curator of the exhibition. "I think he was always conscious that Monticello was at the edge of the frontier, and what he did was bring the larger resources of the world here. …

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